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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Time Has Come for Us to Go

I've decided to give up the blogging life.

There are a number of reasons for this. First, I need to spend my time writing scripts, not blog posts. It all takes time and attention, and a blog post can start with me just popping off about nonsense and end with me reading appellate decisions. That's time not well spent when there are scripts to be created.

Second, blogging is a burden. It just sits there and waits for new posts. And, frankly, a blog is like a garden. It needs to be tended daily and carefully. I fear that my blog featured too much compost, anyway.

Third, I am in a mood lately to stop giving my writing away.

Therefore, I am stopping. I will leave this up for the next couple of weeks while I save the best bits and then I will delete the whole thing. The Next in the Series blog will be no more. It will cease to be. It will shuffle off this mortal coil and join the choir invisible. It will have passed on. Bleedin' dead.

Have a good journey.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Yahoos

I know that some of you probably think that the life of a blogger is nothing but roses and heart-shaped balloons, but let me assure you, that is not always the case. Sometimes miscreants stop by simply to shit on your front porch. They then invariably go running off into the night, giggling with adolescent glee. I had one such visitor to an earlier post of mine last night.

Now, I could have just let it go. What's one more knothead in a world full of them? And yet, I've always considered ignorance a treatable disease and couldn't help myself from trying to shine a dim light of knowledge into the dark corners of this fool's soul.

However, odds are that Simple Simon, like Pinkerton, will never return. That sort is always too chickenshit to do anything but run, a child pretending to be a man.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I Been Everywhere, Man

I got this from my dear, sweet wife:

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

Monday, July 18, 2005

In Memorium

My Dad would've turned 79 today, except for the fact that he died in 1982. Michael P. Cassamas was born July 18, 1926. He died much too soon. In this photo, I would guess that he was about ten.

My brother Mike, Michael S. not P., got married on April 8, 1972. This is my Dad in the monkey suit (his term) with his Aunt Rosie (front) and Aunt Loretta (back). I was 12 and I was there, and I have to tell you, it was one hell of a party. I will always remember my parents dancing, my father graceful and easily athletic and my mother enjoying the ease with which he guided her around the floor.

This is my father's sister, Albina, standing next to his 1934 Ford coupe. The photo is dated November 1946. This was probably taken either on Pieve St. in Pawtucket, RI, or in East Greenwich, RI. I'm guessing Pawtucket because of the flat terrain and the number of houses. My Dad told me that he first drove a car when he was ten. He snuck behind the wheel of my grandfather's Packard, pushed the starter button, and took it around the block. Fortunately for him, his father never found out.

My grandfather was the manager of the Providence terminal of Crown Motor Freight of Paterson, New Jersey. He pressured my father into the family business, and although my father was an unusally good driver, he didn't want to drive trucks. He was actually a top-flight typist and was very good with numbers, but he never got to find out where using those skills could've taken him. He was dutiful, but not fulfilled. I think he enjoyed his time as a pinboy in a bowling alley better than driving trucks.

I have no idea what the circumstances of this photograph are. I don't know why he's on the monument, what monument it is, who the woman or the girl were, or anything. It does show his mischievous sense of humor, though. And he wasn't afraid of heights.

I have the certificate for his First Communion, so I know that this was taken on June 4, 1933. Four years after this, his brother George would be late coming home from his First Communion. My grandfather sent my father to find him. George was still outside the church and was being bullied by three older boys. My father sent him home and then beat up the three other kids who had threatened his brother. He got home in time for Sunday dinner.

I have no idea who the other two fellows are. Probably Army buddies. The first squad he was part of saw their initial action near Remagen. I know this because I was once watching the movie "The Bridge at Remagen" and he simply pointed at the screen and said, "I was there." I think we changed the channel shortly thereafter. My mother told me years later that he was the only survivor of that squad after this initial action. He told me that he got separated from his group. He ended up being reassigned to Patton's Third Army.

The thing I never noticed about this photo until today is that it shows how powerful he was. I mean, he's carrying a full-grown man on his shoulders in a half crouch while tugging on the other fellow's ears. At this time he probably weighed about 165.

He was in Austria on V-E Day and met the Russians. Apparently they had a fine party, neither group of soldiers understanding the other. After that, he was stationed in a town called Traunstein in Bavaria. Recently, it has come to light that the young seminarian who would one day become Pope Benedict XVI lived there at the time. My Dad liked the locals and even learned a few bits of German. Who knows? Maybe he and the young Herr Ratzinger knew each other. Perhaps, had he lived, my Dad would have pointed at the TV and said, "Yeah, I knew him."

He was given an honorable discharge after he punched out a cruel sergeant who was terrorizing other soldiers. Two years later, he was standing in front of the Greenwich Hotel on Main Street in East Greenwich with his Uncle Johnny (who was only one year his senior) when a young brunette walked by. He turned to Johnny and said, "I'm going to marry that girl." Two years after that, you see the result.

When my parents left on their honeymoon to New York, they left their car in the care of Albina's husband, Jerry. Through no fault of his, the car was wrecked. There's probably a pretty good chance theat the car was that same '34 Ford. All good things, eh what?

This is my Dad with his sister Bina in about 1928. They were still living in Paterson, New Jersey at this time. He and Bina, the eldest of six, were always close. It shows in the hug. Or maybe she's trying to strangle him. You know how sisters are.

There's Dad and Bina. I have no idea who the blond children were. I posted this mainly because it's the earliest picture I have that looks like him.

This cat was named Mickey. We had always been dog people until Mickey came into our lives. Good cat. I miss him.

In the summer of 1970, we made the grueling drive across the country when we moved from San Francisco back to Rhode Island, a decision that was as shaky as the camera work in this photo. I can say that because I took the photo. My brother Rick was probably shouting at me to do this and that and the other and the shake you see is just a case of nerves. Either that or there was a tremblor felt only by me in New Mexico or Kansas or someplace that day.

My brother took this one.

Anyway, I just wanted to do something in memory of my father who was a lovely man and who I still miss very much.

The Tao Teh Ching

In the aftermath of the London bombings, I--for a moment--held out hope that one of the leaders involved would finally come to realize the futility of the approach that we currently take against terrorism. Over the weekend, I read that Tony Blair had begun to talk of the fight as one of ideas and emotions rather than as one of bullets and bombs, and I was heartened by this.

This morning, however, I read the following in a story called "Backing U.S. in Iraq put UK at risk, think tank says" on the Reuters online feed:

Security experts said the Iraq war had boosted recruitment and fund-raising for al Qaeda, suspected of being behind London bombings on July 7 that killed 55 people....Defense Secretary John Reid added his voice to the government's dismissal of the report, arguing the whole international community had to confront terrorism.

"One of the lessons of history is that if you run away from this it doesn't actually get better," Reid told the BBC.

Once again, my hopes fell. And then I thought of Lao Tse. There were some verses at the end of The Tao Teh Ching that applied to this, I was sure. So, here's what I came up with after purusing the text for maybe five minutes:

From Chapter 67:

I have Three Treasures;
Guard them and keep them safe:
The first is Love.
The second is Never Too Much.
The third is Never Be the First in the World.
Through love, one has no fear.
Through not doing too much, one has amplitude.
Through not presuming to be the first in the world, one can develop one's talent and let it mature.

If one forsakes love and fearlessness,
Forsakes Restraint and reserve power,
Forsakes following behind and rushes in front,
He is doomed!

For love is victorious in attack
And invulnerable in defense,
Heaven arms with love
Those it would not see destroyed.

(Translated from Chinese into English by Lin Yutang.)

To say that more killing is not the answer is not to run away from the problem. In truth, killing means running away from it. Confronting terrorism means having a courage greater than the kind that is found at the butt end of a gun or on the tip of a laser-guided bomb. It means having the courage to reach out and to comfort those who seem to hate you.

Of course, I am not the first to think of this. Jesus said, "Love thy enemy" and told Peter to put away his sword. Lao Tse certainly knew it, and so did Ghandi and Martin Luther King. Irrational violence, such as that practiced by al Quaeda, cannot stand up to love. Love makes it seem foolish and useless and brings shame to those who practice it.

Heaven arms with love those it would not see destroyed.

Unfortunately, we are ruled by children who think the tactics of the schoolyard bully are the epitome of wit and cunning. They cannot see that every terrorist you blow up creates two more and that every innocent life lost creates ten. To paraphrase Shylock, if we will be revenged, why not they?

Violence is a fire that can fanned and stoked quickly into an inferno. Only love can douse it. Sure, there will be embers that will burn here and there, but isn't it better to deal with burning embers than to live in a world aflame?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

One More Time

As promised, I have finished rewriting "The Anniversary Schmaltz." I changed it quite a bit, actually. I cut out a bit that took place on an airplane for a variety of reasons and wrote three new sketches to take it's place, rewrote the beginning of the next sketch to accommodate the change, and just spruced the whole thing up as much as I could.

When I first decided to pursue the making of this show, this script was the first one that I tackled, and rewriting it has made me realize how much I've learned about writing for this medium over the last three years. I've learned discipline in the rewriting process and am much less likely to kowtow to sentiment now. No matter what warm and fuzzies I may feel toward something, if it doesn't really work or blocks the flow of the scene or the script, it has to go.

Now I'm down to the three final scripts: two more episodes of "The Political Thing" and one that combines the main characters from "The Anniversary Schmaltz" and "Bitlle Joinsoin's Adventure Through the Watching Glass." I call it "The Rainbow Coalition."

I learned a lot from recording stuff over this past weekend, as well. From an actor's standpoint, these scripts have complicated characters who beg to be dissected and plots with dramatic tension and varied rhythms. As a director, I learned that these scripts will benefit from more rehearsal, not less, and now I'm planning on scheduling one day for rehearsal of each script before a syllable is recorded. I also need to become more familiar with my own scripts so that I can better guide my actors through the shoals and rapids.

Friday, July 01, 2005

And Now for Something a Bit More Upbeat (Or, Perhaps, Beaten Up)

Work has begun on a demo of the show. Tom O'Neill is already at work at editing and mixing one scene, and my friend and actor extrordinaire, Arthur, is coming down from Asheville over the weekend so that we can record as much of the rest of the material we're doing as possible.

The demo is going to consist of, I think, six scenes taken directly from the scripts for the show with short comic intros by me into each one. The equipment that I'll be using will not be of the highest order and the acoustics in my living room might not rival those of Abbey Road Studios, but Tom can mitigate many a flaw and Arthur's a talented actor. That leaves me. Well, every endeavor has to have its challenges.

Also, I had started to correct some format problems with the script called "The anniversary Schmaltz" and have ended up rewriting it some more. Expect an update next week.

On a very tangential sidenote, you can get Phil Proctor's Planet Proctor updates emailed to you. Just go to PlanetProctor and sign up. I got my first one this morning and it looked great. Thanks, Phil!

Finally, I wanted to wish everyone a safe and happy Fourth. Here in Georgia, they have decided to legalize the sale of fireworks and they can be purchased at Target and the local groc shop. We'll be spending the fourth in an underground bunker.

P.S. That reminds me of a story. George Kaufman was standing by himself at a lavish Independence Day party given by Moss Hart. Hart emplores him to join in on the festivities. Whereupon Kaufman, while continuing to stand alone, starts muttering, "Damn those British! Damn those British!"